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Monday, March 22, 2010

Lady Ashton's cluelessness, part 2

If the first paragraph of Lady Catherine Ashton's NYT op-ed was the only problem, it would be bad enough. Unfortunately, it is only the beginning of a series of false facts that are considered received wisdom by many well-meaning Westerners.

For example:
What I found in Gaza confirmed my strong view that we must act now — not just to end the violence, but because peace will bring prosperity in Gaza and in the region. It will open up opportunities for growth and regional integration, the best antidote against the radical groups. That is the real prize.
While "occupation" has turned into a dirty word that is considered to be one of the worst injustices that man can be guilty of, Ashton is speaking specifically of "growth" and "prosperity" as being an inevitable outcome of an independent Palestinian Arab state that includes Gaza.

There is only one period of time over the past millenium when Gaza's economy improved significantly, and that was during the 38 years that Israel controlled the territory. It was during that time that Gaza's mortality rate plummeted and its life expectancy soared. It was while under Israeli control that an infrastructure was built - for water, electricity and fuel.

Similarly, in the West Bank, Israel's policies during "occupation" has resulted in huge growth in the economy of the Palestinian Authority. The only pauses in the West Bank's economic success since 1967 have been when Palestinian Arab leaders supported terrorism.

Once one wipes away the pejorative word "occupation" as inherently evil and looks at the actual quality of life of individual Palestinian Arabs - which should be, after all, the real goal - the golden age of Palestinian Arabs were while they were under Israeli responsibility. To be sure, mistakes were made and Israel could have done better, but the only metric that matters is how well individual Palestinian Arabs fared. When terror reigns, whether it was 1936 or 2002, their lives took a turn for the worse; when their leaders act in ways approaching maturity and responsibility, their people benefited - and the Zionists were more than happy to contribute to the better economic good of all.

A clear look at history shows that the Zionist leaders invariably look to find win-win solutions, while the Arab leaders look at it as a zero-sum game where any Zionist success is by definition at the expense of the Arabs. This zero-sum mentality might be difficult to erase from the Arab psyche but there is no excuse for supposedly knowledgeable Westerners to accept it as fact.

If prosperity is the "real prize," then the real solution is to treat Arab terror and intransigence as the most fundamental threat to that goal.
Extremism grows in rubble and refugee camps. These provide fertile territory not just for local warlords but for all those in the region with their own agendas, who profit from instability and assist it with shipments of arms.
"Local warlords"? What local warlords? Hamas has been controlling Gaza with an iron fist since its violent coup, and the other terror groups like Islamic Jihad and PFLP are cooperating with Hamas. There has been some infighting but Gaza, and a little trouble from so-called Salafist groups who disagree with Hamas from a religious perspective, but no part of Gaza is controlled by anyone besides Hamas. Gaza is not Somalia and Ashton does not seem to be able to even understand the basics about Hamas - a quasi government that she doesn't even deign to mention once in the entire op-ed about Gaza.

Throughout the region, from Egypt to Syria, from Lebanon to Jordan, I heard the same message from presidents, prime ministers and a king, and from ordinary people, too — they want their economies to grow, their people to prosper, their children to be educated. To achieve that, we need peace in the Middle East.
Ashton now accepts, without any critical thought, the idea that somehow peace in Iraq and Afghanistan and Lebanon depends on Palestinian Arabs being happy. The number of intra-Arab conflicts since 1948 shows this to be utterly false, but it is another example of how Arab leaders, by repeating the same lies over and over, eventually get credulous Westerners to believe them.

One factor that Ashton does not dare to even consider is how Arab leaders have treated their Palestinian Arab "brothers." The institutional discrimination against Palestinians, especially in terms of naturalization and citizenship, is only the most egregious example of this. Ashton, who is claiming that economic prosperity is the goal, should consider how many Palestinian Arabs would freely choose to move to Gulf states and get out of the limbo of statelessness. Not to mention the benefits that these new, hardworking and educated citizens would bring to their adopted countries. Yet that idea is never on the table - because the same Arab leaders who insist that all roads lead through Palestine are the ones who work hardest to ensure that they will keep their Palestinian brethren stateless and miserable for generations to come, just to pressure Israel.

We know the elements that are needed. The European Union set out its position in a statement of principles last December. A two-state solution with Israel and Palestine side by side in peace and security.
No, these aren't the elements that are needed - these are the elements that have been rejected by the Palestinian Arab side, again and again. Chaim Weizmann once famously said that the Jews would accept a state that was the size of a tablecloth. The fact that a supposedly disadvantaged Palestinian Arab people vetoes every offer given them without even a counteroffer indicates that, just perhaps, a state is not their end goal.

Their maximal demands have not changed one iota since before Oslo, in the same time period that Israel has given up Gaza and large areas of the West Bank. This simple fact shows that it is not Israel that is the intransigent party and it is not Israel that is seeking to perpetuate the conflict.

It is way past time for the West to wake up and start to pressure the Palestinian Arabs, and the Arab nations as a whole, to do their part to end the conflict. Op-eds like these, rather than contributing to a solution, are a large part of the problem.